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Sri Lanka issues shoot-on-sight order as crisis intensifies

Sri Lanka issues shoot-on-sight order as crisis intensifies

Colombo: A day after protesters targeted the homes of ruling-party politicians, Sri Lankan authorities on Tuesday ordered troops to shoot-on-sight people involved in looting public property or causing harm to life".

"Security forces have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm to life," the ministry said.

The ministry has ordered the tri-forces to open fire on anyone looting public property or causing harm to others, the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted an army spokesman as saying.

Earlier in the day, embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa handed over emergency powers to the military and police allowing the forces to detain people without warrants.

The island nation has witnessed a bout of violence that has left as many as eight people dead and more than 200 injured amid its worst economic crisis since its Independence.

On Monday, government supporters with sticks and clubs attacked demonstrators in Colombo protesting peacefully for weeks demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation.

Police said on Tuesday eight people had died.

Protests continued on Tuesday despite the curfew, with some people defying the shoot-on-sight order to torch buildings and vehicles.

A luxury hotel said to belong to a Rajapaksa relative was set on fire on Tuesday evening on the edge of the Sinharaja rainforest.

And police shot into the air at two locations to disperse mobs trying to burn vehicles.

Earlier, a crowd had attacked and set fire to a vehicle carrying Colombo's most senior policeman.

Officers fired warning shots and sent in reinforcements to rescue Senior Deputy Inspector-General Deshabandu Tennakoon, who was rushed to hospital but later released.

As well as those killed, more than 225 people were injured on Monday, which also saw the resignation of prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

His departure, however, failed to quell public anger, with his brother still president and wielding widespread powers including command over security forces.

Mahinda had to be rescued in a pre-dawn military operation after thousands of angry protesters stormed his official residence overnight and lobbed petrol bombs.

"Unless President Rajapaksa steps down, no one -- whether the masses in the streets or key political stakeholders -- will be appeased," analyst Michael Kugelman from the Wilson Center told AFP.

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TAGS:Srilanka Economic crisis 
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